Jesse, king of Maasai Mara, dies in tragic rivalry battle

Jesse lion

Jesse, the majestic Maasai Mara lion, was mauled to death in a territorial fight with male lions from a rival pride.

Photo credit: Courtesy

Big cat lovers are mourning the famous and majestic lion nicknamed Jesse, of the world-renowned Maasai Mara game reserve, who died after being attacked by males from a rival pride in a territorial fight.

The lion that has been ruling the Offbeat Pride for more than a decade encountered three Enkuiyani Pride lions that mauled him to death on Monday night.

Jesse is reported to have been born in 2011, making him 12 years old at his death, which is two years past the lifespan of male adult lions in the wild.

The famous Jesse is the second victim of the Enkuiyani males after the same brothers killed another popular lion named Logol of the Marsh Pride in July last year.

"We are still in sadness after receiving the news of Jesse’s demise. He was one of the most famous and magnificent lions in Mara," said Mr John Frank, a big cat lover.

Jesse’s brother, Frank, died in 2016, leaving him a lone nomad.

The lion that ruled the world famous Maasai Mara grassland savannah for several years was a darling of tourists as he hunted alone.

"He became our all-time favourite for being a cool old man, hunting and fighting alone for his own survival. He had all the great characters of a male lion; strength, toughness and tenaciousness,” read a post on Discover Africa.

The lion, according to wildlife vets in the Maasai Mara, has not been in good shape following frequent fights with other males.

"His health had deteriorated. Sometimes he failed to kill his hunt and mostly, he had injuries from attacks from males in other prides," said a vet who sought anonymity.

Jesse, after roaming across the larger Mara, coincidentally died at Mara North Conservancy, where he was born 12 years ago.

Offbeat Pride

The two brothers Jesse and Frank led the Offbeat Pride that birthed over seven sons and several grandsons.

Mara Predator Conservation Programme (MPCP) termed Jesse as a nomadic lion living a solitary life.

"We are saddened by the loss of the famous nomad male lion Jesse. The Mara North Conservancy rangers alerted us of a male lion, who was badly beaten and succumbed to his injuries some hours later, and our team quickly respond to the scene and identified him as Jesse," posted MPCP on its Facebook page.

The MPCP revealed that Jesse was born in the Cheli Pride in Mara North Conservancy in 2011.

"Jesse and his brother Frank left the Cheli Pride in 2014, and we were the first to document the duo taking over the Offbeat Pride in May 2014," read the MPCP statement.

The brothers successfully raised one set of offspring during their pride leadership, although all their sons have either died or gone missing.

"Their daughters are successfully continuing the Offbeat Pride. Jesse had to leave the Offbeat Pride when Frank went missing in 2016, forcing Jesse to begin a nomadic life, and he lived as a nomad until his death," said MPCP.

The majestic lion was seen several times in Naboisho and Olare-Motorogi conservancies, and in the national reserve.